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Sugar Ray and the Bluetones Biography
SUGAR RAY NORCIA
Singer, harp man and three time Grammy Nominee Sugar Ray Norcia’s career kicked into high gear in 1979 when he formed the original Sugar Ray and the Bluetones with guitar giant Ronnie Earl and it has stayed there ever since. Norcia has received a total of twenty two Blues Music Award Nominations including winning two Blues Music Awards in 2014 and has appeared on over sixty albums.In 2012 Ray was inducted into Rhode Island’s Music Hall of Fame. In 2016 Sugar Ray and his band The Bluetones released a CD called “Seeing Is Believing”. Sugar Ray was nominated for an unprecedented seven 2017 Blues Music Awards including Traditional Blues Male Artist and B.B. King Entertainer of the Year!
Sugar Ray and the Bluetones…
-The original line-up of Sugar Ray Norcia, Anthony Geraci, Michael “Mudcat” Ward, Neil Gouvin and then guitarist Ronnie Horvath (who subsequently changed his name to Ronnie Earl) was dominant in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s in the New England area, (where they were the House Band at the legendary Speakeasy Café in Cambridge, MA) New York City, Washington, D.C., throughout Virginia and a long road trip to Chicago where they played at Theresa’s Lounge on the South Side with Junior Wells. The band recorded two records with Chicago harmonica giant Big Walter Horton and toured as the backing band for blues legends Otis Rush, Big Joe Turner, J.B. Hutto, Sunnyland Slim, Hubert Sumlin, Roosevelt Sykes and many more. After Mr. Earl left to join Roomful of Blues, a relatively unknown guitarist joined the Bluetones–Doug “Kid” Bangham~”Kid” coming from the band members as they didn’t even know his name at the time! The Bluetones traveled to California and back, and were one of this generation’s first blues bands to tour Europe, as early as 1980. Bangham left to take the place of Jimmy Vaughan in the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Sugar Ray also joined Roomful of Blues in the 1990’s for seven strong years of touring and recording.
-In 2012 Sugar Ray and the Bluetones were inducted into Rhode Islands Music Hall of Fame. Sugar Ray Norcia has been the driving force behind the Bluetones since its inception and he is considered one of this generations most powerful blues vocalist, harmonica players and songwriters.
Three time Grammy nominated Sugar Ray Norcia has received a total of twenty two Blues Music Award nominations including winning two Blues Music Awards in 2014. Sugar Ray has been on over sixty recordings with the likes of Roomful of Blues, J. Geils, Michelle Willson, Otis Grand, Pinetop Perkins and he is a featured vocalist on the two critically acclaimed Knickerbocker All-Stars recordings. In 2016 Sugar Ray and his band The Bluetones released a CD on Severn Records called “Seeing Is Believing”. For that CD Sugar Ray was nominated for an unprecedented seven 2017 Blues Music Awards including Traditional Blues Male Artist and B.B. King Entertainer of the year.
-Bassist “Mudcat” Ward toured and recorded with J. Geils, Jimmy Rogers, Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, and Rockabilly Legend Sleepy LaBeef. His recording with Hubert Sumlin also included Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Levon Helm, part of Ward’s over fifty recordings. He’s also an accomplished Author-Ellison “Tarzan” Brown: The Narragansett Indian That Twice Won the Boston Marathon (Ward) McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers.
-Drummer Neil Gouvin has been with Sugar Ray since they were in Jr. High School together, and graces the drum kit on every Bluetones recording. He has also been featured on a cd with John Hammond Jr. called Found True Love (Virgin) that was nominated for a Grammy, and has made multiple recordings with Otis Grand, Joe Houston, and others.
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